The origins of pharmacology at the University of Alberta date back to 1913 when the original basic medical departments (Anatomy, Bacteriology and Physiology & Pharmacology) were established to teach the first cohort of medical students in the newly established Faculty of Medicine. Teaching of pharmacology has continued since that time although the Departmental structure has changed over the years.
Until the late 1950's, it was customary in most North American Universities for Pharmacology and Physiology to be housed within a single department. At the University of Alberta, it was agreed in 1960 that Pharmacology and Physiology should become separate departments with distinct (though related) research and educational missions.
In 1961, Dr. Edwin Daniel was recruited from the University of Manitoba to Chair the new Department of Pharmacology. During Dr. Daniel's stewardship, the Department grew from only a few academic staff in 1961 to fourteen in 1972 when he moved to McMaster University. At that time, the Department was one of the largest pharmacology departments in Canada and it has continued to grow both in its numbers and its breadth of research. Throughout the 1980s, this expansion was due, in large part, to the creation of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research which provided the funds to recruit excellent medical scientists to the University. Over the years, the Department has evolved in response to new developments in pharmacology, especially molecular pharmacology. The Department of Pharmacology remains at the forefront of pharmacological research and has strengths in cardiovascular pharmacology, neuropharmacology, molecular pharmacology and diabetes.